How to Be a Good Negotiator


Being a good negotiator isn't just for business people. In fact, mastering negotiation skills will help you in just about every aspect of your life. It can get you a few extra vacation days, or an extension on a deadline, or even an upgrade on your hotel room. In this article I will give you a few tips on how to get what you are looking for every time and still make your counterpart feel like they got a great deal.

  • BE INFORMED - There's no easier way to get fleeced than coming to a negotiating situation unprepared, so make sure you do your homework and know as much about the job/house/product as you can. Negotiation is all about the push and pull, and you always want to know when someone is trying to pull you too far. You want to be able to spot any outrageous offers, or even false claims that someone is throwing at you hoping you'll take a lopsided deal. Furthermore, you want to be able to make strong counter-offers using specific numbers and facts, making your proposition harder to refute. The bottom line is, knowing a good deal when you see one will help you capitalize on it.

  • BE OBSERVANT - We all know there is no such thing as the perfect job, perfect house or perfect anything for that matter. However, most of us are happy to accept minor inconveniences when our most important requirements are met. In a negotiating situation, your counterpart will do his best to minimize the impact of imperfections on the value of the product. By being a shrewd observer, you can expose the weaknesses of the product, hopefully in a convincing enough way for your counterpart to find other ways to compensate for these flaws.

    Common sense is key, so avoid making low-ball propositions. You want the questions you raise to be reasonable and genuine, so that your counterpart will want to do what it takes to get you to agree to the deal.

  • DON'T EXPECT TO TAKE WITHOUT GIVING - Something that isn't that important to you sometimes makes a big difference for your counterpart. (for example, a job start date etc). Being flexible will help you tremendously when you are asking for things that do matter to you. If you ask for a nice discount on that new TV for example, you are much more likely to get it if you agree to buy an extra accessory like cables or extended warranties (which maybe you were going to buy in the first place anyway!)

  • BE WILLING TO WALK AWAY - Walking away can have a powerful impact on any negotiating situation. It shows that you are absolutely not willing to give any more ground and feel like your time is being wasted. Obviously both parties have an interest to come to an agreement, and it can be frustrating when you are close but not quite there, especially if you spent a significant amount of time and effort trying to make the deal happen.

    When you do walk away, be prepared to accept that most likely no deal will be made. If your counterpart is not willing to give any more ground either, the deal is off and changing your mind will expose your weakness and place all the bargaining power on your counterpart's hands. However, if closing the deal is really important to him your counterpart will most likely go that extra mile to make it work.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always be polite and friendly, you want your counterpart to feel like you are working together to get to a point where you both leave satisfied.
  • Be aware that some things are more negotiable than others. If there are hundreds of people out there who would be happy to take a certain deal, you won't be able to push too hard before your counterpart reaches the point where he walks away.

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